Kitemill is a world-leading player in the field of developing and commercializing Airborne Wind Energy systems. The company’s business activities include designing, selling, and installing AWE systems as well as some project development and maintenance activities. A proof-of-concept system already exists, demonstrating automatic production of clean energy.

The company’s current key projects include:

The Sør Energi project at Lista is located near Kitemill’s test center. This project involves the installation of up to five AWE systems to generate wind energy for the local utility. The project has been permitted and installation of the 2nd system was completed in 2022 as planned in the EU funded project AWE. See picture from operation of the second winch below.

For the project, named Norse Airborne Wind Energy Project - NAWEP, Kitemill has been awarded €3,35m under the EU Innovation fund. The plan is to build and operate the first 12 AWE systems (the total project budget entails  €7,5m). Green Flyway is a project funded by the EU Intreg program to facilitate the development of unmanned aviation and electric aviation in bilateral cooperation between the municipalities of Røros in Norway and Østersund in Sweden. An area of 27 km2  has been identified, which can take in up to 150 AWE systems, for which there have been several ongoing discussions with local authorities, air traffic control, and landowners.

The road towards commercialization

Airborne wind energy has tremendous global potential for commercialization and scalability and can be an active response to mitigate the climate crisis. Below is a description of the road towards the commercialization of AWE.

A strategic decision to scale smart

During the early introduction phase of new technology, the focus for any company should be on building operational experience and a solid track record. Kitemill credit our success in establishing a commercial plant at such an early stage to the prioritization on increasing flying experience while scaling our solutions at an optimal pace. Accumulating operational experience with small-scale plants is much more cost-effective than scaling at an early phase. That is why we plan to scale up stepwise so that knowledge derived from relevant operating experience is utilized further with each new model. ‍

Currently Kitemill flies the KM1 unit where the main purpose is to gain operational experience. The following technology platforms well each open commercial market segments starting with the KM2 at 100kW nominal power.

The future plan is to increase energy-generating capabilities by introducing platforms at 500 kW, 1500 kW, and 3000 kW levels, the scaling steps might be revised.

Onwards and upwards

Airborne wind energy has the potential to become a competitive solution for renewable energy generation. For this to happen the cost of this energy production has to tangent or become less than the cost of comparable renewable energy sources. Kitemill is estimated to produce energy below 100 €/MWh in a 100 kW scale, which is the lower limit of what offshore wind energy costs. At the 500 kW scale in a mature form, Kitemill should be able to produce energy below 45 €/MWh which is about the same production cost as conventional wind turbines at locations with ideal wind resources.

Lower onshore technology LCoE

The report was made by BVG Assocates in 2018 for KPS now aquired by Kitemill. The “KPS 500 kW” correspond to the Kitemill KM3 model of 500 kW. The “SWAG” format indicates a mature form with a annual volume exceeding 10 units in each project and an annular volume supplied of >100 units/year. Download the full report here.

A call for action

Taking these first steps for commercial introduction is possible with existing technology-support schemes. However, introduction to niche markets paying more is a slow and inefficient way to enable new energy production technologies for the OEM’s like Kitemill, and for the society in general. To accelerate the transition to net-zero and deploy Airborne Wind Energy systems in volumes that makes a difference in the energy mix, there is a need for specific incentives. Such incentives are needed until the supply chains are scaled and should gradually be phased out.

Kitemill plan to introduce its technology to the market by establishing large-scale test sites with the help of public and private incentives. These test sites will function as showcase marketplaces for investors and future customers. It will enable a supply chain and allow the operation and maintenance services to be develop. Successful commercialization of Kitemill’s technology is, therefore, dependent action from the public and private stakeholders willing to make the important first move towards innovative and green energy production.

Read Kitemill's latest recommended policy for the Norwegian Energy Commission 2022 here.

Norwegian - Høringsinnspill til Energikommisjonen

English - Translation of Kitemill's policy recommodation